We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

How Do I Reduce Nitrates in Aquariums?

By Cindy Quarters
Updated Jun 04, 2024
Our promise to you
All Things Nature is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At All Things Nature, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Nitrates are a by-product of the natural processes that occur in both nature and in the aquarium. They are caused by such things as too many fish, dirty filters and decaying plant matter. When the conditions that produce nitrates are kept to a minimum, nitrate production is small. Good management habits including regular cleaning and water changes can help to prevent problems and to reduce nitrates in aquariums to acceptable levels. Special filtration systems can also be helpful.

Normal freshwater and saltwater aquarium nitrate levels should be below about 10 parts per million (ppm). Levels higher than that can stress young or sensitive fish and will promote the growth of algae. It is possible for fish to survive with higher levels, but this is not recommended. New fish that are introduced to an aquarium high in nitrates may become ill or may be unable to survive.

One of the most important things you can do to reduce nitrates in aquariums is simply to keep the aquarium clean. Hobbyists who overfeed or who try to place too many species into an aquarium are at risk of losing their fish. The decaying food and vegetation produces nitrates as part of the rotting process, and these get into the water where they can cause problems for the fish.

A significant way to reduce nitrates in aquariums is through regular water changes. Changing out small amounts of the water each week may impact the nitrate level, but most likely won’t help enough to drop the levels by much. For best results, about half of the water in the aquarium should be replaced at once. The new water should be tested for nitrates before being added, and the nitrate levels in the tank should be checked afterward.

You can also purchase special filters that are able to remove nitrates from the water. These filters rely on live bacteria to reduce nitrates in aquariums and work well once they are established. The removal process is slow to start but works well once it is up and running, though the filters can be a bit tricky to use.

Live plants are an excellent aid to help you to reduce nitrates in aquariums. Since decaying plant matter can cause nitrates, it is important that the plants in your tank be vigorous, healthy and growing. In a freshwater system plants can be planted in the gravel on the bottom of the tank. In a saltwater aquarium the best choice is usually to add live rocks, which are rocks with plants growing on them.

All Things Nature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
All Things Nature, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

All Things Nature, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.